I’m able to cope with ordinary stresses
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It is not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” – Byron Katie
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s character Lysander says, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” How well we negotiate relationships can mean the difference between depression and well-being. Susan Piver’s new book The Four Noble Truths of Love helps us navigate that course.
I was impressed by how effective this year’s political campaigns were at creating division and fear. As we come together with friends and family of all political stripes over the holidays, what would happen if we analyzed how politicians behaved and did the opposite? Would our conversations create connection and trust?
After fifty-two consecutive Mondays of posting ideas for moving from depression to well-being, last week I found myself caught up in an internal struggle. I decided not to post. There’s a laundry list of reasons for taking breaks (and a few reasons to proceed with caution when we’re depressed).
On Saturday morning I felt let down, a little sorry for myself, and that what I was doing was a waste of time. In other words, I forgot the equation: Intention > Outcome.
“Here lies the body of William Jay,
Who died maintaining his right of way –
He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.”–Dale Carnegie
How Not to Feel Broken
It’s been a while since I had to contend with depression, but when I recently found myself with a broken foot, I decided to practice these techniques on a physical challenge. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste…it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” –Rahm Emanuel
One Saturday afternoon I checked my texts and emails to find a message that couldn’t have been better engineered to evoke social anxiety!
Every day I run into circumstances where my mind’s habitual response is resistance. Last Saturday, one of the things I resisted most vehemently was leading a discussion entitled, “Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing.”
Learning to walk was a trial and error affair. I fell down a lot, watched what the grown-ups did, and gradually learned to stumble less: sort of the way I learned to process my emotions. But what if the grown-ups I learned from were doing it wrong?
It’s hard to find a silver lining in the cloud of depression. But, learning to read our emotional compass can guide us to well-being.
Shortly after you were born, your mother had a shocking conversation with her doctor about your unusual sleep habits.
We don’t become depressed because antidepressants are missing from our daily diet, but a shortage of hugs can lead to anxiety, depression, and worse.
I once laughed at a bumper sticker that read “Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.” A Fresh Air interview with Michael Pollan about his book How To Change Your Mind convinces me that ego is for people who can’t handle reality.
Lizards and mice and monkeys, oh my. When our human thought and animal emotion are at odds, it’s easy to get depressed. But learning techniques to tame the animals in our head can help us achieve greater well-being.
I was running low on motivation this week. Instead of coming up with a post idea, I decided to take it easy on myself and change the world instead.
“There is no right or wrong, no good or bad, when it comes to values. What you value is what you value—end of story!” writes Russ Harris in The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT. But, living our values can lead us either to depression or to well-being.
“I think the single most important thing that we can do is to recognize that we do not live in a real world. We live in a construct, and we made it.”
It’s true that practicing strengthens our habits. But, like “the Force” in the Star Wars saga, what we practice has both a light and a dark side.
Gratitude is a highly effective antidote to negative moods and mind-states. But, when we’re expected to be grateful for things we’re not, it can backfire.
Avoiding Taxing Situations
The ultimate penalty for avoiding taxes is prison. The penalty for growing the list of things we avoid is a prison of our own making.
Getting annoyed with others people’s opinions is one of the stresses of daily life that I’ve resolved to let go of as a New Year’s resolution. So far, I’m not doing so well. Here’s how I plan to do better.
If you live on an island, it’s stress reducing if you know how to swim. If there’s a big wave coming at you, it’s a bonus if you know how to SURF.
The Invisibilia episode “High Voltage (Emotions Part Two)” featured the story of a twenty-six-year-old woman with an interesting happiness problem. Worrying about whether or not she was happy made her throw up.
When faced with changes in our environment, our internal climate can be shaped by grief or gratitude.
How a forest immersion can serve as a natural antidepressant.
It’s ironic but totally healthy that we mark our nation’s independence with a celebration of dictatorship, interdependence, and e pluribus unum.
There are few topics that I resist more than the realities of aging. But, John Leland’s book Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old shows how mindful choices can improve our lives at any age.
Thinking about death can be far less anxiety producing than thinking about dying. But, surprisingly, contemplating end of life scenarios really tells us more about how we want to live.
Feelings of social anxiety are very real, but thanks to our ancestors, they’re not very reliable.
Dad used to get embarrassed every Christmas.
“One of the most common causes of overeating and weight gain is difficulty regulating our emotions, our moods, our thoughts, and even disruptive impulses and behaviors.” – Julie M. Simon